Industry Leaders Forum: Kim Puxty, CEO, Building Service Contractors Association of Australia, BSCAA

One of the main challenges leaders in the cleaning industry face is navigating the complex and ever-changing regulatory landscape.

How was 2023 for BSCAA?

BSCAA had a successful year, with several highlights. One was the launch of the Prequalified Contractor Assessment, which is independently undertaken by iPRO. It ensures each cleaning contractor that undergoes the assessment complies with all industrial relations law throughout Australia, that cleaner’s remuneration and entitlements along with their work terms and conditions abide or exceed the Modern Award, as well as promote responsible industry practices. This was complemented by the HR Health Check, audited by BDO, one of the world’s leading audit and accounting organisations.

In 2023, BSCAA’s new constitution made it possible for the association to begin the transition from a state-based organisation to a single federal entity. This move enables BSCAA to align its priorities, goals, and resources nationwide and to serve its members’ needs more efficiently. It also ensures BSCAA has a stronger, united, and unified voice when advocating for the interests of the industry.

BSCAA worked with the Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SCCA) to review and enhance the Code of Conduct which fosters and promotes a culture of compliance amongst cleaning contractors that provide services to shopping centres. The Code of Conduct helps establish a level playing field within the industry, promoting fair competition, and building trust and confidence with clients. It sets standards to ensure that cleaners are employed under fair and ethical conditions, promoting transparency and compliance in the industry.

What are BSCAA’s main priorities for 2024?

One of BSCAA’s main priorities is increasing our advocacy work with government, both state and Commonwealth. This is important for BSCAA members so that their interests and concerns are heard and addressed at the policy level. By establishing stronger communication with government, BSCAA can advocate for programs that benefit both the cleaning industry and wider community, such as increased funding for training and development, fair competition, and compliance without burdensome regulation. The aim as always is to create a more level playing field within the industry and promote responsible practices which ultimately benefit BSCAA members, their clients, and the public.

What are the biggest challenges facing the cleaning industry?

Arguably the most significant challenge facing the cleaning industry continues to be the constant pressure on contractors to lower their prices by clients who are often driven solely by cost considerations. This emphasis on cost-cutting leads to essential cleaning services being devalued and can foster unethical business practices. For instance, contractors are pressured to resort to substandard methods including engaging workers inappropriately, reducing the necessary time needed to undertake the work, and using inferior cleaning products and poorly maintained equipment.

Unfortunately, constant cost cutting not only harms the quality of service provided but also the reputation of the industry. Instead, clients should be encouraged to seek out transparent pricing and be aware and understand exactly what they are paying for, and especially the hours cleaners are working and the full cost of their wages and legal entitlements. A price that seems too low should raise a red flag as it may indicate that the contractor is cutting corners and/or using unethical methods to offer cheap cleaning services.

The issue can be addressed with the industry focusing on educating clients about the significance of quality service and the benefits of investing in reputable cleaning contractors. Clients should be made aware of what is considered an ethical contract price and how to evaluate the quality of service provided by a contractor. For their part, contractors should promote and demonstrate their ethical practices and compliance with industry standards, this can be done through the independent iPRO Prequalification Contractor Assessment.

What’s the biggest challenge facing leaders?

One of the main challenges leaders in the cleaning industry face is navigating the complex and ever-changing regulatory landscape. However, this challenge also presents opportunities for leaders to demonstrate their commitment to compliance and responsible industry practices, which in turn builds client trust and confidence. By staying up to date with the latest industry trends, technologies, and best practices, leaders can position their organisations for success and growth. By investing in their workforce and providing ongoing training and development opportunities, leaders can ensure that their team is equipped to handle new challenges and opportunities as they arise.

What are the most significant opportunities for the industry?

Increasingly there are opportunities for businesses to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) and improve their operations further. AI-powered tools can help streamline cleaning processes, reduce costs, and enhance the overall quality of service. For example, AI algorithms can analyse data to optimise cleaning schedules and routes, predict equipment maintenance, and provide real-time feedback on cleaning performance. AI-powered chatbots can enhance customer support by providing instant responses to common inquiries and automating routine tasks.

To best leverage these opportunities, the cleaning industry needs to invest in AI technology and learn how to use it effectively. Businesses can start by identifying areas where AI can add significant value, such as scheduling, resource allocation, quality control, and customer service. They can research and select the right AI-powered tools that suit their specific needs and integrate them into their operations. AI has the potential to enhance service quality, reduce costs, and achieve higher customer satisfaction levels, giving them a competitive edge in the market.

Do you have a message for the industry?

In the cleaning industry, it can be difficult for clients to understand the true cost of providing high-quality, ethical cleaning services. This cost includes complying with legislative requirements and engaging cleaners ethically. Even though these practices are necessary to ensure a reputable and valued service, they come at a price. My message is to both cleaning contractors and all business that use the services of cleaning contractors. It is essential for industry professionals to educate clients on the importance of investing in reputable cleaning contractors and promoting ethical practices. Clients in turn need to invest time to learn and understand the true cost of the services they expect to receive.  Only together can we ensure responsible industry practices and promote transparency and compliance.

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